Winners of second round of 'Race to the Top' announced

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (R) visits with sixth grade students at the Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Va. Following his meeting with students, the president delivered remarks on his "Race to the Top" program and his request for an additional $1.35 billion in 2011 for the program.

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Bill Radke: Today, the Education Department announced the winners in the second round of its Race to the Top program. Nine states and the District of Columbia will split more than $3 billion. Race to the Top forced states to compete for a pot of money, and to win that prize, they had to promise to overhaul their schools.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports, some states made drastic changes and still didn't win.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: As in any race, there were more losers than winners. Forty-six states applied for the grants. Just nine of them won today. Two others won in the first round.

To qualify for the competition, states had to agree to stringent reforms, like allowing more charter schools and tying teacher pay to test scores. Education Secretary Arne Duncan describes the lengths some states went to, in the dash for cash.

Arne Duncan: Many of them have adopted new laws. All of them have adopted common rigorous standards in reading and math.

Those standards were adopted by 35 of the competing states. But two-thirds of them won't get any money. So the Obama Administration got what it wanted in the losing states, without spending a dime.

Jane Hannaway is an education policy analyst at the Urban Institute.

Jane Hannaway: I think the administration was brilliant. I think it had a limited amount of money, and it got states thinking seriously about how to pursue those objectives.

But many of those objectives cost money. Jack Jennings heads the Center on Education Policy.

Jack Jennings: A number of the things states said they would do if they got money they're not going to be able to do because they won't have the money.

Education Secretary Duncan says there are other grants the losing states can apply for. But Jennings is dubious.

Jennings: Well, the secretary is putting the best face on it. But nothing compares to the Race to the Top fund. That is the major pot of money.

The Obama Administration has budgeted for a third Race to the Top competition next year. But Jennings says Congress will only authorize enough money for a handful of awards.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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